Catalunya’s referendum vote to take place on 1 October

Catalonia represents one-fifth of Spain’s 1.1 trillion-euro economy and enjoys a great deal of self-government. However, on 1 October, the Catalan people are going to have a vote to choose whether want to be ruled independently from the rest of Spain. If the referendum is passed, they will be able to vote on their own laws and government.

According to polls, less than half of Catalonia’s 5.5 million voters want self-rule, although most of the wealthy at least want the chance to vote on the issue.

The constitutional court of Spain ruled that any referendum on independence is illegal; however, the Catalan Parliament plans to declare independence within the first 48 hours of a “Yes” vote.

Because the Catalan people stand firm in their demand for a right to vote, the central government called in between 3,000 and 4,000 national police officers who are under orders to prevent the staging of the referendum.

On 20 September, 14 Catalan government officials were arrested because they were involved in organizing the vote. And it didn’t stop with arrests. Electoral materials were seized from millions of ballot papers to hundreds of ballot boxes.

These actions by the Spanish government have caused the people of Catalunya to organize peaceful protests against the current government and for their own right to vote independently.

Tensions are high in the city of Barcelona. Every night at 22:00, locals bang pots and pans together in what is called a cacerolada, a form of protest to unite the people together in solidarity.

The President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, told the separatists to resist the provocations of the central government and remain peaceful. If things become violent, they will have more reason to stop the vote.

Although Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariana Rajoy, demands that the Catalan officials stop their “disobedience”, the Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, says that the vote will continue as planned on Sunday, 1 October.


Autumn on the Costa Brava

Thinking of booking a Costa Brava vacation rental? There’s never a bad time of year to take a holiday in Spain, but there’s something extra special about autumn on the Costa Brava. Here’s what to expect.

Great Weather

Autumn on the Costa Brava is surprisingly bright and clear, a far cry from the conditions in northern Europe! These bright and clear days mean that there are usually excellent views toward the mountains, and as the leaves begin to fall from the trees this view only keeps getting better and better.

A Quiet, Local Feel

Known as the ‘off season’, this time of year sees very few visitors so you’ll find that there’s a very local feel. A big advantage of this is that there tends to be greater availability for restaurants and accommodations. In fact, you may be able to get an amazing deal on a holiday rental on the Costa Brava!

A Natural Environment

Washed up driftwood replaces the crowds of people on the Costa Brava beaches, while the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà is not to be missed at this time of year, with migratory birds stopping off on their way back to Africa for the winter. The Costa Brava loses its resort feel and returns to nature during autumn.

Serene Mountains

Autumn is a great time for hiking. Not only is it often very dry and comfortable, rather than being overly sunny and warm, but it’s also one of the quietest times of the year in the mountains. The ski season hasn’t yet started, so many people find the mountainous areas to be very peaceful and serene.

Summer is by far the most popular time of the year to take a holiday in Spain, but it’s worth considering the benefits and beauty of travelling at other times of the year. Autumn still brings lovely weather and tends to be a little quieter than mid-summer, making it excellent for those who appreciate the calm.


Why choose a Catalonia villa rental over a hotel?

Looking back just a few years, the obvious go-to choice for a Barcelona accommodation was a hotel. After all, hotels aim to be a ‘home away from home’, providing travellers with a decent selection of amenities such as on-site restaurants, cleaning services, and concierge assistance. However, today things are a little different. An increasing number of travellers are now turning their attention to Barcelona villas instead. Why? Because there a number of advantages of villas in Barcelona that hotels simply can’t offer.

These advantages include the following:

Separate Bedrooms

While some larger hotel rooms can comfortably accommodate families and groups, there’s nothing like having your own private space! If you’re travelling with family or friends, a family villa in Barcelona allows you to be together under the same roof, but also have your own space to acquire some private time. It really is the best of both worlds!

Kitchen Area

When you’re on holiday in Spain it’s important to immerse yourself in the local culture and try out some of the delicacies on offer at the nearby restaurants. However, being able to whip up some cheese on toast as a midnight snack or warm up some milk for the kids in your own kitchen is a huge benefit. 

Additional Privacy

Hotels are a great way to meet other like-minded travellers and make new friends, but sometimes you just need a bit more privacy. Staying in a Barcelona holiday rental means you never have to worry about the pool being busy or having loud neighbours in the next room. It’s your space.

Flexibility

Your time off is precious, so why spend it trying to fit in with someone else’s schedule? Staying in a vacation villa in Barcelona means that you can do what you want, when you want. While hotels may offer breakfast between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., you can enjoy a nice bacon sandwich at 3 in the afternoon!


Exploring World Heritage Sites in Catalonia

For travellers staying in an apartment in Barcelona, there is not one but seven amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in and around the city that all were designed by architect and modernist Antoni Gaudí. See below for just a few of these must-see marvels in art and architecture.

Poblet Monastery

One of Spain’s oldest abbeys, the Poblet Monastery is located in the lush green village of Vimbodí. The architecture and design, both inside and out, are breathtaking, but what really makes it stand out is that it’s actually one of the most complete Cistercian abbeys in the entire world. There are usually two tours of the abbey each day, and the monastery can be visited from your Barcelona villa as a day trip. You could also consider a Catalonia villa rental in Reus or Tarragona, which are a little closer.

Palau de la Música Catalana

Palau de la Música Catalana

This famous concert hall is one of the only World Heritage Sites in the centre of Barcelona that wasn’t designed by Gaudí. Instead, it was designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, who was instrumental in the 19th-century revival of Catalan culture. Take a guided tour to learn more, or book tickets to see a performance of local and international operas and symphonies, as well as lectures and conferences, too. Located right in the heart of historic Ciutat Vella (Old Town), it’s quick and easy to reach from many villas in Barcelona.

Hospital de Sant Pau

This World Heritage Site is located very close to another: Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia. A working hospital until fairly recently — 2009 — today the site is a popular museum and cultural centre attracting both locals and visitors, and it’s just as impressive on the outside as it is on the inside, designed in the classic Art Nouveau style. The hospital is situated in the El Guinardó neighbourhood, where you’ll find many luxury Barcelona holiday rentals, as well as great sights and attractions, like the Guinardó municipal park.

Hospital de Sant Pau

Tárraco

Although the town is today known as Tarragona, it was once referred to as Tárraco, and was one of the country’s most prominent Roman centres. The archaeological remains of Tárraco were declared a World Heritage Site in 2000, and are well worth visiting. It takes slightly more than one hour to drive from your Barcelona accommodation to Tarragona, and you pass through many other beautiful places along the way, including the fantastic coastal resorts of Sitges and Vilanova which are renowned for their beaches.


Pla de Bages: Catalonia’s smallest wine region

When we think about Catalan wines (which are perfect for enjoying at your luxury villa with private pool in Spain!), we tend to think about the major wine-growing regions such as DO Empordà from northern Catalonia and DO Alella wines from the Mediterranean coast. We rarely stop to consider one of Catalonia’s smallest wine-growing regions: Pla de Bages, located within the Province of Barcelona.

About Pla de Bages

Covering just 600 hectares, Pla de Bages is the smallest DO region in all of Catalonia, but despite its size it certainly has a lot to offer. Believed to be named after Bacchus, the Roman God of Wine, a large number of grape varieties are grown here, including the red varieties of Garnatxa and Ull de Llebre and picapoll for white wines. Boasting two different types of soil, Pla de Bages is renowned for its diverse offerings.

Right on Trend

Believe it or not, Pla de Bages is actually one of the oldest locations in Barcelona for wine growing, but its agricultural challenges of the past have made growth and development slower than other regions. However, thanks to the influx of ‘boutique’ wines on offer here, Pla de Bages is said to the ‘the next big thing’ in Catalan wines, offering trendier reds, whites, and sparkling cavas than their competitors.

Visiting Pla de Bages 

There are a number of tours that you can take of Pla de Bages, which take you right into the heart of the 13th-century chateau where the magic happens, and demonstrate the processes that help this region offer the highest quality wines in Barcelona. For easy access to the region, rent a house in Barcelona and rent a car locally; it’s less than an hour’s drive from the city centre to Pla de Bages.


What to do in Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar is one of the most popular destinations for people booking a holiday in Spain, and it’s easy to see why. As one of the best coastal resorts in Catalonia, this former fishing town thrives on tourism and features a number of beaches, seafront activities, and watersports centres to entertain visitors.

But what if the beach isn’t really your thing? What if you want a vacation in Spain that’s less about the sunbathing, and more about Catalan history and culture? Is Tossa de Mar still a good choice? Yes!

There’s so much more to Tossa de Mar than just the beach. Here are a few of the town’s attractions:

12th-Century History

In the 1100s, Tossa de Mar became a walled city, and parts of this historic wall still remain today. A section of the wall is open to pedestrians and offers breathtaking views in every direction as it weaves around the edge of the town. Remember: it’s old, and some of the terrain can be quite uneven in certain places.

Hollywood Glamour

Think there’s only good film locations in Barcelona? Think again! The 1951 British drama Pandora and the Flying Dutchman starring Ava Gardner was filmed in Tossa de Mar! The castle and beach areas look just the same today, although the overall landscape has certainly changed during the past 60 years!

Museums

The town’s main museum is the Municipal Museum, and it’s a great place to learn more about the history of Tossa de Mar. It is located in the Old Town and is home to everything from painting and mosaics to glass works and sculptures. It’s compact, but only costs a few euros to enter.

Roman Ruins

If you’re interested in seeing what a villa on the Costa Brava used to look like, then be sure to visit the Roman Villa of Ametllers. Discovered in 1914, the ruins are believed to date from somewhere prior to the 6th century. This villa in Spain tells us a great deal about Roman-Mediterranean farming of the time.

 

 

 

 


A tapas crawl in El Born

No matter where you choose to rent a villa in Barcelona, you’ll be within walking distance of a great tapas restaurant! The city has plenty of great places that serve up small plates of classic Spanish dishes such as patatas bravas, calamares, and croquetas. However there is one particular location in Barcelona that is especially known for its tapas offerings: the neighbourhood of El Born in Ciutat Vella (the old city). Join us as we take a look at some of the highlights of an El Born tapas crawl!

Stop 1: Tapeo

Begin your El Born tapas crawl at Tapeo. Run by husband-and-wife team Daniel Rueda and Natalia Ferran, the menu features modern, creative tapas that you won’t find anywhere else, and it’s the perfect way to begin your evening. How about meatballs with cuttlefish, wasabi-topped salmon, or a burger with mushroom mayo?

Stop 2: El Xampanyet

El Xampanyet should be your second stop on your El Born tapas crawl for two reasons: first, it’s right across the road from Tapeo, and second this traditional watering hole is extremely popular and it gets busy, so arriving early is essential. Authenticity is key here and you won’t find any ‘crazy’ menu items, just good old-fashioned Spanish tortillas and plenty of chorizo. While the tapas is delicious, many people flock here for the homemade cava!

Stop 3: Cal Pep

A short walk through El Born will bring you to Cal Pep, a Mediterranean-style restaurant famous for its fresh seafood offerings. With menu items changing depending on the ‘catch of the day’, there’s always something different to sample here, and there’s usually more than 70 dishes available, including tapas, meats, fish, vegetables, soups, and salads.

Stop 4: Ten’s Tapas OR Vinya del Senyor

Now it’s time to make a decision: Either head toward Barcelona Zoo and you can visit Ten’s Tapas, run by renowned chef Jordi Cruz, or head toward Port Vell and stop in at Vinya del Senyor, a wine-themed tapas restaurant that commands spectacular views of the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar from the outdoor patio. If you enjoy people-watching, then this is a true Barcelona hotspot.


How to reach the summit of Barcelona’s Montjuic mountain

You’ve seen the towering castle from the streets of Barcelona that rests atop the city, but how do you reach the summit of Montjuic? Luckily, the castle that stands at the top of the hill is actually very accessible, and there are a number of different ways to get there. The best way will depend on your budget and fitness level. Here is a brief look at the different transport options.

By Funicular

A fun way to travel, the funicular is also very convenient as it connects to the city’s metro system at Paral-lel Station and takes just two minutes to reach the summit. If you’re staying in a family villa in Barcelona with the kids, they will love taking the funicular, which is a train car that travels up and down the hill.

Cost: A single journey costs just 2 Euros.

By Cable Car

Another fun way to travel, the cable car offers spectacular views of Barcelona (can you spot your villa in Barcelona from way up here?). Departing close to the funicular, the cable car is convenient but more costly than the funicular. This method of travel is not recommended for travellers who are afraid of heights!

Cost: 12.50 Euros for an adult return, or 9.00 Euros for a return ticket for children aged 4 – 12.

By Bus

The local Barcelona bus 150 departs from Plaça d’Espanya and travels up the hill to the castle. If you’re not confident taking the bus on holiday in Spain, don’t worry — the castle is the last stop on the line so it’s easy to know where to get off! This isn’t a very exciting option, but it is a very cost-effective one!

Cost: A single bus journey (valid to the end of the line) costs 2.15 Euros per person.

By Taxi

Taking the taxi can be more expensive than taking the bus, but the advantage is that you can travel on your own schedule (perfect if you’re with young children), and you have a bit of added privacy, too. However, keep in mind that a taxi isn’t the most interesting or fun way to travel to the summit.

Cost: Cost will vary depending on your starting point, but this is probably the most expensive option.

By Foot

Feeling fit? Why not walk to the top? The best way is to leave from the funicular station and head up through the park, taking the winding footpath to the summit. The walk should take between 20 and 30 minutes, although it can be steep in parts. You can rest your legs at your Barcelona vacation rental afterwards!

Cost: Free!

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